Working for Man of Many definitely has its perks. The most recent of which was an invitation from Penfolds Wines to travel down to Adelaide and sample their new Penfolds Max’s Collection at the lovely Magill Estate Cellar Door in South Australia. The trip was truly a pleasure. We mean, honestly, is there any job greater than travelling to drink wine all day from one of the region’s landmark wineries?
But enough about us. Founded in 1844 (just 8 years after the settlement of South Australia FYI), Penfolds Wines has a history as rich and even turbulent as the land surrounding it. To put it simply: Australian wine would not be where it is today without Penfolds. They endure decade after decade to remain one of Australia’s premier winemakers, crafting an excellent product that tastes good and makes you feel good in the process.
Penfolds Wines has achieved a number of important milestones in its storied rise to prominence. For instance, they revolutionized re-corking and have established clinics for the process–their re-corked vintage bottles often fetch higher numbers than uncorked bottles from the same years. But the most famous story in the Penfolds history book is that of pioneer Max Schubert, who travelled the world in search of delicious red wine at a time when Australia was stuck on sherries and ports. After visiting Bordeaux and adopting their revolutionary techniques in winemaking, Max returned to Australia to present his findings to the board in the form of a striking Australian red.
As all stories of passion and innovation go, the stuffy board duly rejected Max’s red and ordered a halt on production. Instead of giving up on his baby, however, Max took production underground and worked for years on the now-famous Penfolds Grange line. The Grange would go on to win numerous awards and become the quintessential Australian red. In the end, Max won the day.
Jump ahead a few decades and of course both red and white wine are ubiquitous on our fair continent. And while Max Schubert might not be a household name, Penfolds has never forgotten the man who left an indelible mark on their “House Style” and changed the industry in all the best ways. Through the power of great wine, the company has paid tribute to the award winning winemaker and innovative spirit with their Max’s Collection. They were delighted to present us with a tasting and we were just as delighted to accept.
Because Max was a man who wanted to share the best of what’s around, the Penfolds Max’s Collection features wines that are perfect for the modern day enthusiast. During our tasting we experienced profiles that were playful but polished, bursting with immediacy but dense enough to reward over time, sustained by an incredible sense of balance and gloss. The wine was approachable but not without distinction, ripe with fruit and tannin and backed by a certain depth that lingers on the palate.
The namesake Max Schubert Cabernet Shiraz 2012 is the centrepiece. With an intense flavour that’s fruit-forward and heavy on character, this multi-regional blend has a consistent, progressive palate with subtle, savoury tannins and a soft, oak finish. The complexity is striking and smooth and a fitting tribute to the chief winemaker of Penfolds’ yesteryear. We highly recommend this red to anyone who enjoys a nice glass of Cabernet Shiraz or red wine in general.
The good folks at Magill Estate Cellar Door were also kind enough to give us a preview of the upcoming Penfold Max’s Chardonnay, which ended up being our favourite of the trip. Refreshing, rich and delicately layered, the Chardonnay boasted fruity notes of peach and apricot with a noted acidity and creamy texture. It was so good we helped ourselves to another glass when the winemaker’s back was turned! Just kidding–the winemaker was more than happy to help us in our quest for delicious intoxication.
Ultimately, we really have to hand it to Penfolds. In an industry that frequently gets too cheap or too expensive, the Max’s Collection brilliantly straddles the line between craft and affordability. In keeping with the spirit of Max Schubert, Penfolds has created a superior, but approachable wine that’s bound to gain a huge following. We are grateful for their efforts and equally grateful that they invited us to partake.